African transfer market: one hell of a winter!
Prices spike and club inflated ambitions made for some very pricy transfers for African players on the market this winter. Despite having enjoyed most of the spotlight, Cedric Bakambu and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are not the only one to have switched teams. Let’s take a look back at one pretty outstanding transfer season.
Cédric Bakambu, the most bankable?
Are we seeing here the most expensive African player in history? With a pretty phenomenal season, on par with Lionel Messi for best striker (nine goals in fifteen games), the centre-forward and his flashy sunglasses could not resist the call of the Far East. Indeed, it was a hard offer to turn down: the Beijing Guoan reportedly put 74 million euros on the table to buy the Congolese striker. But that figure could drop to 40 million, as the club tries to run circles around the new tax policy in place for Chinese championship teams. The famous January sales...
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the most expected?
Nobody knew exactly where or how, but everybody knew when: after four seasons and a half, many goals scored and a fair amounts of hijinks, Pierre-Emerick Aubameuyang had to start fresh somewhere in 2018. One must be able to turn the page when there’s no more room to write on it, which is why he’s sailing to England and Arsenal, to have a go at the famous British kick and rush and a rivalry with Alexandre Lacazette. Total cost of the transaction? 63,75 million euros. That’s more than Islam Slimani and Keita Balde combined.
Majeed Waris, the most surprising?
The media were calling it, negotiations were moving forward, it seemed like a done deal. But boom goes the dynamite: instead of signing with Caen, Majeed Waris choose Portugal by signing with the FC Porto (loan with buying possibility for 6 million, not too shabby). Why? Because the Malherbe Stadium, crossed by the Dragons, were offering less. Sometime business is that easy. Rennes can be sympathetic, having almost signed the player in 2015, with Waris opting for Lorient at the last minute. Full of surprise, Mr. Waris.
Badou Ndiaye, the most discreet?
Sixteen million euros. That’s the hefty sum Stoke City parted with to enlist the help of... Badou Ndiaye. Who? Papa Alioune N’diaye, if one wishes to take the formal route, 27 this year, doesn’t seem like the biggest fish with his participation to Galatasaray this season. But watch out: if the forward centre isn’t well known in France, he’s a household name across other borders: in Turkey, the Senegalese player (15 selections) played nearly 80 games with Osmanlispor. And more than a 100 with FK Bodø/Glimt in Norway. So, you know, check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Achraf Bencharki, the most dramatic?
It’s what you’d call a pretty good time in your life if it were to happen to you: only a few days after winning the African Nations Championship, the Moroccan national took a leap of faith, going from the Wydad Athletic Club to Al-Hilal. In Saudi Arabia, the 23-year-old gem is hell-bent on proving himself as the best in his country. But it is indeed back home that he will be sorely missed, with fans eager to see their star forward play for his country again.
Riyad Mahrez, the botched one?
A 65 million euros proposal from Manchester City. A refusal from Leicester. A star-crossed transfer, if there ever was such a thing. A strike from Riyad Mahrez - no, not the one we love to see, the French kind of strike. And no pending news.